my greek mythology

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Greek Mythology: 

Greek Mythology Background Information


Myths Greek Myths are all that’s left of the ancient Greek religion. About 1200 b.c., the residents of, what we would call, Greece and Asia Minor shared a common belief in a group of deities or gods that came to be known as The Olympians.



How they came to be: 

How they came to be The Olympians are descended from the primal, self created gods, beginning with Kaos or Chaos. The Olympians are ruled by Zeus. He is the strongest and, as you will see, without him, the other Olympians would still be held captive inside their devious father, Kronos.


Zeus Zeus was allotted the domain or to rule over the sky Some say he was the cause of the great Trojan war

More than just Olympians: 

More than just Olympians The Olympians are only a small part of the family of Immortals that rule the earth and sky. The various rivers, mountains and forces of nature are the ‘bodies’ of the Immortals and proper respect must always be shown if you wish to have peace at home and safe passage when you travel.

Surviving Over the Ages: 

Surviving Over the Ages The stories of the Olympians survived because they had the largest number of followers and, most importantly, The Olympians did not forbid or punish the pursuit of knowledge. Beauty, poetry and creative activities are the blessings of The Immortals and are a vital part of the Greek tradition.

The Ancient Texts: 

The Ancient Texts Greek Myths are mostly from the period known as Classical Greece, circa 500 b.c. The stories behind the myths are from a much earlier time but written versions don’t exist before Classical times

The Oldest Myths: 

The Oldest Myths The oldest myths can be traced to three main sources: Homer, Hesiod and The Homeric Hymns, circa 800 b.c. That means that by the time they were written down, these works had survived 400 years of additions, subtractions and mutations to finally become the versions we now call ‘authentic.’

Looking Back to Learn for the Future: 

Looking Back to Learn for the Future The Greek Myths are our window into the distant past, a view of a world that existed not only in the mind of the Greek poets but in the hearts of the humble and long suffering natives of ancient Greece.


HOMER Homer is said to be the first teller of adventures of all times. I don't say the first author, because in his day his stories were passed down orally. He was a blind man who's date of birth is unknown. Told The Iliad and The Odyssey 


Odysseus There were questions about who his father was, but his father by name was Laertes, King of Ithaca. Name means “giver and receiver of pain”

Helen of Troy: 

Helen of Troy Many men of the day went after Helen Odysseus did not bring a gift Odysseus came up with the idea that whoever Helen chose would not be harmed and they all took an oath to protect Helen as well


Penelope Helen’s father put in a good word for Odysseus when he chose Penelope Some stories – He won a foot race Marrying Penelope was a good choice Helen eventually abandoned her husband Penelope was very faithful Penelope later waits 20 years for her husband to return After marriage, she went with Odysseus to Ithaca instead of them living in Sparta


THE TROJAN WAR The war lasted Ten Years Many legendary figures died So many died that it was the end of the Age of Heroes Valor, deception, betrayal, treachery, loyalty, compassion

So it begins…: 

So it begins… The marriage between Peleus, a mortal king, and Thetis, the goddess of the seas, was set to take place. All of the gods of Olympus were invited except for Eris. Eris was the goddess of discord. She was very angry at not being invited and decided to take matters into her own hands.

Apple of Discord: 

Apple of Discord Eris threw a Golden Apple among the goddesses who were invited. The apple was inscribed with the title, “For the Fairest”. Goddesses Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite all thought they were the fairest and fought over the apple. Zeus had them go to the walled city of Troy to fight about it. Zeus appointed Paris (a Trojan prince and handsomest of men) to decide it. The three goddesses all tried to bribe Paris.

The Fairest of Them All: 

The Fairest of Them All Hera promised Paris dominion over the whole Earth Athena promised Paris certain victory in all battles he would fight Aphrodite promised Paris the most beautiful woman in the world, Helen of Troy Paris chose Helen and gave the apple to Aphrodite

The Problem with Helen: 

The Problem with Helen Helen was already married to the Greek king of Sparta, Menelaus. Remember, Odysseus was one of her suitors but changed his mind for Penelope. Oath to abide by her choice and punish anyone who might steal her away Helen chose Menelaus and had a daughter named Hermione.

A Gracious Host: 

A Gracious Host Menelaus was not aware of Paris’ desires for his wife, Helen. He welcomed Paris into his house and entertained him there for nine days. Menelaus then left to attend his grandfather’s funeral. Paris then carried off Helen of Troy and lots of treasure. Some stories say she left willingly with her young lover, while other stories say she was raped and abducted.

Round up the Troops: 

Round up the Troops Menelaus asked his brother, Agamemnon (commander in chief of the Greek forces) for help. Agamemnon rounded up the formal suitors for Helen and reminded them of their oath to punish anyone who took her away. Many did not want to live up to the oath.

The Oath that haunts Odysseus: 

The Oath that haunts Odysseus Odysseus pretended to be crazy in order to get out of joining the army to bring back Helen. He had his new wife, Penelope, and son, Telemachus, to think about now. However, his fake madness was suspected and when someone put his son in front of the plow Odysseus was using, everyone knew he was faking it. He reluctantly left and joined the Greek forces.

The Face that Launched One Thousand Ships: 

The Face that Launched One Thousand Ships In order to bring back Helen, the Greeks formed a huge rescue force. They assembled 1,000 ships from over 24 Greek kingdoms. For this reason, Helen is known as “The Face that Launched One Thousand Ships”.

Poor Iphigenia: 

Poor Iphigenia Unfavorable winds stopped them from leaving immediately. They blamed it on Agamemnon for saying he was a better hunter than the goddess Artemis. They decided he should sacrifice his daughter, Iphigenia. They tricked her into thinking she was there to marry Achilles, but they really sacrificed her. This caused Agamemnon’s wife, Clytemnestra, to despise him for the rest of her life.

The Way to Troy: 

The Way to Troy The winds changed, but none of the Greeks knew the way to Troy, so they landed south of Troy at Mysia. When they landed, Telephus (son of Heracles) killed several Greeks. Eventually, Achilles (who later proves to be the greatest of Greek war heroes) wounded Telephus. Telephus agreed to show the Greeks the way to Troy if Achilles would heal him. However, Telephus would not fight against Troy.

Demands for War: 

Demands for War Before the Greeks landed at Troy (also known as Ilium), Odysseus and Menelaus went to appeal personally to Priam, king of Troy. Priam thought returning Helen and the gold could avoid war. However, Priam’s sons (50 of them, with 12 daughters, and 42 illegitimate children) demanded war to defend their brother Paris. They would have killed Odysseus and Menelaus immediately, but did not want to anger the gods by violating the rules of hospitality.

Beginning Attacks: 

Beginning Attacks Troy was a walled city, so the Greeks could not directly attack it, but attacked the surrounding towns that supplied Troy. They cut off the supplies and used the food and provisions.

Nine Years of Town Attacks: 

Nine Years of Town Attacks For Nine years, the Greeks attacked the towns surrounding Troy. When they took these towns, the Greek soldiers took anything they could carry. They also raped and enslaved women of that region.

Immortals Take Sides: 

Immortals Take Sides Zeus forbade the immortals from taking sides in the war, but they did anyway. Aphrodite (chosen by Paris), Artemis, and Apollo favored the Trojans. Hera and Athena (both offended by Paris’ choice), Poseidon, Hermes, and Hephaestus favored the Greeks. Zeus, Hades, Dementer, and Hestia were the only immortals who remained neutral.


ACHILLES Achilles was the child born to Peleus and Thetis. He was made basically immortal by his mother, Thetis. She dipped him in the River Styx as a baby and the mortal life was burned away from him. That is, all of the mortal life was burned away except for the heel by which she held him. He was immortal except for his heel. That is why we refer to the Achilles Heel as a flaw that can cause the mighty to fall.

Achilles Rocks: 

Achilles Rocks He was the greatest Greek warrior. During early attacks, Achilles killed King Tenes, a son of Apollo. This made Apollo angry with Achilles. Achilles killed several kings. He also was harsh to the sons of Priam. He tortured them more than anyone else. He captured some of them, and even sold one of them for a silver mixing bowl for spite. Achilles later killed this very same man in battle.

Achilles the Whiner: 

Achilles the Whiner Achilles was irreplaceable in battle. One time, Agamemnon stole away his concubine, and Achilles was so offended, he left the battle. His mother, Thetis, asked Zeus to deny the Greeks victories until they begged Achilles to return, and Zeus agreed. Greek forces then suffered huge losses.

Patroclus, My Friend: 

Patroclus, My Friend Achilles’ best friend, Patroclus, was offended by Trojan attacks, and since Achilles was not using his armor, Patroclus asked to borrow it. He was not as good as Achilles, but he fought valiantly and inspired the Greeks. Eventually, Patroclus was killed in battle by Hector. Achilles was so hurt by his death that he returned to the battle. Trojans tried to rally, but Achilles almost single handedly forced them behind the walls of Troy.


HECTOR Hector was the mightiest Trojan warrior. Once, he alone went out to face Achilles in battle. He was the oldest son of Priam and the first Trojan to kill a Greek warrior. Hector insisted after nine years of war that Paris meet Menelaus one-on-one to decide the issue. This might have ended the war one year earlier, but Aphrodite spirited Paris away before Menelaus could kill him. Hector was the one who killed Patroclus.

Hector’s Brutal Death: 

Hector’s Brutal Death Achilles chased down and killed Hector after Hector killed Patroclus. Then he desecrated Hector’s body by dragging it behind his chariot and circling the walls of Troy three times. Only after Priam and Thetis appealed to Achilles did he give up the body for burial. Both sides called for an 11 day truce to mourn the greatest Trojan hero.


PENTHESILEIA Achilles’ fury died down a little. Then, an Amazon queen named Penthesileia arrived and fought bravely for the Trojans until Achilles defeated her. As she died, she looked into Achilles’ eyes and Achilles instantly fell in love. She was so beautiful that he wept as they took off her armor. Achilles cared so much for her that when Thersites mocked Achilles’ feelings, he hit Thersites so hard with one blow that it knocked out all of his teeth and killed him instantly. This impulsive killing again caused Achilles to leave the fighting for a while.

Tricky Odysseus with Diomedes: 

Tricky Odysseus with Diomedes During the fighting, Odysseus paired up with Diomedes to kill a Trojan spy who told them about Rhesus, king of Thrace. They then went to the camp, killed Rhesus and 12 of his men in their sleep, and took their valuable horses. They also engineered the murder of Palamedes. He was the one who tricked Odysseus into revealing he was not crazy. He held a grudge for many years, then hid gold under Palamedes’ tent, forged a letter from the king of Troy making him look like a traitor, and then watched with glee as he was stoned.


AJAX OF SALAMIS AND TEUCER Ajax of Salamis was an older Greek soldier who had captured Troy several years before with Heracles. He was the tallest of all warriors and looked intimidating Ajax once met Hector in one-on-one combat and they fought to a draw. They showed respect to each other. Ajax gave Hector his belt and Hector gave him a sword. His half brother Teucer (one of the best archers) fought side by side with him. If Zeus had not broken Teucer’s bowstring, he would have killed Hector before Achilles did.


AJAX OF LOCRIS AND AENEAS Ajax of Locris (Greek) was known as the “lesser” Ajax, but he was deadly with a spear and second only to Achilles in swiftness. He was also an inseparable ally with Ajax of Salamis and fought side by side with the “greater” Ajax. Aeneas was a Trojan prince who, when wounded, Aphrodite rescued him, and Artemis and Leto healed him. He was one of few to fight for the Trojan side to survive the war. He led survivors to Italy, and Romans claim him as an ancestor to the first emperors.


THE TENTH YEAR OF THE WAR This was the most costly time of the war for both Troy and Greece. Achilles killed Penthesileia and Memnon. They were both great warriors who came to fight for Troy.

Death of Achilles: 

Death of Achilles Paris, who started the whole war, never showed great skill in combat. He was considered a wimp. However, he managed to kill Achilles with a single bow shot even though arrows are not usually fatal. Apollo guided Paris’ bow as he shot it over the walls of Troy and it pierced Achilles in the heel killing him.

After Achilles’ Death: 

After Achilles’ Death While still under heavy attack, Ajax of Salamis carried the body of Achilles off the field, and Odysseus defended him against attack. Both Ajax and Odysseus claimed the right to wear Achilles’ armor forged by the god, Hephaestus. Greek leaders chose Odysseus as the most worthy, and Ajax went mad. Ajax slaughtered Greek livestock thinking they were Greek generals who had insulted him. Once Ajax had his insanity restored, he was deeply ashamed and killed himself by falling on the sword he won from Hector.

What the Seer Saw: 

What the Seer Saw After Achilles’ death, Odysseus captured the Trojan seer, Helenus, the brother of Paris. He persuaded him to tell the fate of the city of Troy. Helenus revealed the city would fall to the Greeks only if: 1. Achilles’ son, Neoptolemus, joined the fighting 2. The Greeks used the bow and arrows of Heracles 3. One of the bones of Agamemnon’s grandfather, Pelops, was brought to Troy, and 4. The Palladium (an ancient wooden statue of Athena that protected the city when it was built around the statue) must be stolen from the Trojan citadel where it was kept called the Pergamum

Neoptolemus and Philoctetes: 

Neoptolemus and Philoctetes Odysseus & Diomedes went to recruit Neoptolemus (“new war”) to join the Greeks. In battle he was almost as bold, ruthless, and intimidating as his father, Achilles. On the way back to Troy, they picked up Philoctetes (best archer in Greece since Heracles who had Heracles’ bow & arrow). Philoctetes was mad at the Greeks for abandoning him on the island of Lemnos. Odysseus and the spirit of Heracles told him it was his duty to fight for the Greeks. He eventually agreed.

Pelops and the Palladium: 

Pelops and the Palladium All four of them returned to Troy. When they got there, they found that the people of Elis had gladly sent the shoulder blade of Pelops. This left only the Palladium. Under the cover of night, Odysseus and Diomedes snuck into Troy and stole the statue. Once all four steps were taken, there were instant results. Philoctetes the Greek shot one of Heracles’ poison arrows and it killed Paris.


THE WOODEN HORSE Despite losing virtually all of its heroes, Troy would still not fall. The walls were built by Apollo & Poseidon and made impenetrable. Odysseus came up with a plan to get inside the city. With Athena’s help, Epeius and the Greeks constructed an enormous wooden horse.


THE PLAN OF ATTACK AND FINDING OF THE HORSE Led by Odysseus, a small army of the boldest Greek warriors hid inside the wooden horse. The Greek fleet sailed away and hid offshore. The Trojans found the horse with a written dedication to Athena. Some wanted to destroy it, but others wanted it to replace the stolen Palladium for luck.

Cassandra and Laocoon: 

Cassandra and Laocoon The prophets Cassandra and Laocoon warned that there were Greeks inside the wooden horse, but nobody believed them. In her past, Cassandra had spurned Apollo’s advances, and he cursed her so nobody would believe her prophecies. Laocoon proved his point by throwing a spear at the wooden horse, but at the same time two sea serpents rose out of the sea to kill Laocoon and his sons. The Trojans thought the priest was being punished.

Sinon and His Lies: 

Sinon and His Lies The Trojans also found a Greek named Sinon tied up outside of the city. He said he was mad at the Greeks for almost sacrificing him to Athena, but they built the wooden horse to appease her instead. He explained it was designed to not fit through the gates, and Athena would be mad if the horse was harmed. In order to get the wooden horse into the city, the Trojans took out a piece of the wall.

Inside the Gates: 

Inside the Gates That night, Helen was suspicious of the horse and called out to the men mimicking their wives’ voices, but Odysseus kept them quiet. Later in the night after the Trojans all went to sleep drunk after celebrating, Sinon freed the Greeks and sent a beacon to the Greek fleet. Those inside opened the gates and the Greeks seized Troy in one bloody night.

The Sacking of Troy: 

The Sacking of Troy The Greeks were vicious in taking Troy. Neoptolemus dragged Priam from the altar of Zeus and slaughtered him. Neoptolemus also obeyed the ghost of his father, Achilles, by sacrificing Priam’s daughter, Polyxena, on the grave of Achilles. It was either Neoptolemus and Odysseus who threw Astyanax, the infant son of Hector, to his death from the walls and ended the line of Priam forever.

Finally Menelaus and Helen: 

Finally Menelaus and Helen Menelaus killed Deiphobus. Deiphobus had forced Helen (Menelaus’ wife) to marry him after his brother Paris died. Menelaus was determined to kill Helen after ten years of fighting because he was sure she had been unfaithful to him. Helen pleaded for mercy, and when faced with her beauty and tears, Menelaus forgave her.

Going Home: 

Going Home Few of the Greek warriors were left alive to sail home. Of the original 1,000 ships, less than 100 left to return home to Greece. Many Greeks had difficulties getting home, and several of those ships never made it home alive. One hero who had a tough time getting home was Odysseus in The Odyssey. It is his ten year journey home that we will read about in class.

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